A Quick Thought on Another Good Book: The King Jesus Gospel, by Scot McKnight

First of all, apologies for being away for so long. I have returned from Sabbatical and getting back up to speed here took some time. 

First of all, apologies for being away for so long. I have returned from Sabbatical and getting back up to speed here took some time. 

I want to alert you to another good book discussing the gospel and its content. It is The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited, by Scot McKnight. It fits nicely with my Recovering the Real Lost Gospel: Rediscovering the Gospel As Good News. In his new work, Scot attaches the gospel to Christology as the saving story of Jesus that completes the saving story of Israel. So how themes like the kingdom, where Jesus fits in the kingdom, and where we fit in the kingdom are important to the gospel as it is laid out in the New Testament. Scot starts with 1 Corinthians 15 but then moves especially into the gospels, Acts, and Peter for his points. He works hard to contrast this broader understanding of the gospel with one that limits the gospel only to salvation and soteriology. He really contrasts a salvation culture with a gospel culture in the book as a corrective. This means the gospel is about Israel's story, the lordship of Jesus, summoning people to respond, and seeing the gospel also as saving and redeeming. This saving involves forgiveness, the gift of the Spirit and justification (132-33). We need to live in ways that chllenge the other stories in our world: individualism, consumerism, nationalism, moral relativism, scientific naturalism, new age, postmodern tribalism, salvation by therapy (157). The gospel leads into transformation and seving others in love and compassion. Thatis a gospel culture. A gospel culture requires conversion, but the gospel is about more than conversion.

This is a good book, well argued. My only concern is that the opposition Scot makes between the gospel being about salvation and about a more comprehensive goal may risk turning off the very people who need to hear his message most. If the gospel includes a message about coming to the kingdom and knowing the promised Christ as the giver of life in that kingdom (salvation), even though the gospel deals with more than this, then we need not make so much of an either or choice out of this message. Although much of what Scot says shows he has a place, even an key one, for salvation in the discussion of the biblical gospel, his framing as a contrast of what really is a relationship between kingdom, life, and salvation may cause some not to hear the important points he is making. Our public conversation about the gospel needs to step back, in my view, from such contrastive framing, and step more into being clear what the connection is between the parts. Scot's discussions of the text do this, but his framework does not. So pick up this book. It will engage you on the topic of the gospel in a helpful way that will help you appreciate its scope. And don't be caught off guard by how the question is framed. Hang in there with the book and see if you can get the whole story.


  • John Harris

    Paul’s Gospel
    Isn’t it fair that the gospel is what saves? So I do think you can “boil down” the gospel to “what must I do to be saved” and that “hub” is “believe in the Lord Jesus.” Isn’t that sufficient for salvation? I would agree that’s woefully anemic in terms of all of what the whole story of the gospel is… but isn’t that still the gospel? Scot would say no. In 1Cor 15 of “first importance” in Paul’s gospel is “Christ Jesus died for our sins” so isn’t it fair to say this IS the gospel sufficient for salvation. Surely there is a fuller expression, but the gospel is the tip of the spear of the proclamation FOR salvation. It seems incorrect to talk about a “plan of salvation” that is part of the gospel, but not sufficient to describe the gospel. It’s the gospel that saves, right? Salvation isn’t a simple transaction, it’s the whole ball of wax, it’s not ascent to the correct set of presuppositions, it’s encountering Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit… “Believe in the Lord Jesus” seems to be sufficient for that. Right?

  • Darrell L. Bock


    I dealt with all of this including 1 Cor 15 in a book called Recovering the Real Lost Gospel. I Cor 15 is about the resurrection and its centrality, but the gospel for Paul is best presented in Romans.